I spent half of the last weekend doing something sobering: I dragged wet bags of trash out of my parents' flooded basement on Long Island. Up to 7 inches of groundwater rose up after a recent series of rainstorms, and the unfortunate result was that boxes of old papers, books, and childhood possessions were irrevocably waterlogged and destroyed.
We should have gone through the boxes earlier, some years before. Old game systems--the Atari 5200, Sega CD game boxes, piles of Sega Genesis games, and peripherals--had to be thrown out. Electronic board games and puzzles, too. I could put together an amazing slideshow of what was gotten rid of, but it was too painful, and the humidity downstairs was overwhelming. That's not the point.
My real reflection, or observation, came when dealing with notebooks and papers that also had to be thrown out, and albums of photographs that were soaked. Not to trivialize matters, but I had just purchased an iPad the day before--in itself a thing, too, but one that represents the current and coming all-digital and cloud-based lifestyle where books, photos, videos, and even possibly memories are digitized and made intangible. The attack levied on a lifestyle of digital goods is that you don't get to own "the thing," the object that is somehow more valuable than the e-good it's replacing.
Well, tell that to my waterlogged games and books. Right now I'd prefer to re-download the games over PSN, or sync back up to my Kindle app. Yes, digital files can get corrupted, hard drives break, clouds can go haywire and erase mail or documents. But our physical possessions can be destroyed, too. Everything falls apart eventually. I told my parents, who were distraught with losing so many things they saved over the years, that if you think about it, we really don't own anything in our lives. We come, we go, and everything--physical or digital--decays.
So, I'm making a concerted effort more than ever to go digital. Here's how.… Read more